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Case Study:

EE Limited

November 2021 - Nasstar supports EE to future-proof its M2MConnect service

EE is a digital communications company running the UK’s largest and fastest mobile network. As part of the BT Group, it offers 4G in more places than any other network and was the first to launch 5G coverage.

Additionally, EE provides mobiles, tablets, broadband and fixed communications services to both consumers and businesses.

Services

AWS EC2
AWS RDS
AWS AMQ
AWS Route53
AWS Lamda

The Brief

EE has an AWS hosted platform known as ‘M2MConnect’ which provides their business customers with a solution for rapid, low-cost deployment of telemetry for machine-to-machine (M2M) services. The platform enables customers to send/receive control messages for M2M type devices and applications.

It first started being used in 2003, before migrating into AWS Cloud in 2013. As a legacy product, the M2M Connect service was fully reviewed, and EE outlined the following key challenges:

  • Availability
    Legacy AWS instance types were running on old Amazon hardware, resulting in frequent Amazon maintenance alerts. With no support for high availability, downtime had to be arranged on a regular basis.

  • Performance
    Performance bottlenecks were apparent during peak load.

  • Reliability
    Inherent design decisions and insufficient consideration given to high availability exposed the platform to several single points of failure.

  • Security
    The platform was non-compliant against Amazon’s standards for secure application hosting.

  • Management
    The platform was not deployed through Infrastructure as Code (IaC) but reliant on manual configuration prone to human error.

These problems presented a risk to both Nasstar and our customer. For Nasstar, it jeopardised contractual service levels with the further risk of financial penalty a real possibility

As such, EE turned to Nasstar to find a viable solution that would mitigate these risks.

The Benefits

Following project completion, EE has realised the following benefits as a direct result of implementing this solution in AWS:

  • Availability
    The solution has seen a significant improvement in service availability with no downtime required for Amazon maintenance alerts. This is reflected in Nasstar’s service level reporting where this is a key metric.

  • Reliability
    The solution has addressed key single points of failure, further minimising unplanned downtime.

  • Capacity and Performance
    The solution supports a 100% increase in throughput, meaning the platform can process peak loads with no adverse effect on performance.

  • Security
    The re-architected solution meets Amazon’s standards for secure application hosting. Moreover, the rapid and agile Blue-Green deployment model has facilitated regular patching of the platform reducing the risk of cyber-attack.

  • Supportability
    The solution supports rapid and seamless code build and deployment using AWS CodeBuild and CodeDeploy, enabling minimal downtime for planned maintenance windows.

  • Observability
    Leveraging AWS-native services EE has unlocked an unprecedented level of end-to-end infrastructure observability from a single solution.

With best-of-breed technologies from AWS and Nasstar, EE can be assured of a high-performance, high-availability solution that will meet their evolving business needs.

The Solution

Nasstar conducted a full review into the existing solution to assess the weaknesses identified and map out a strategic plan for the following 18 months.

We agreed several key objectives with EE, which were shared as part of a Service Improvement Plan.

The Nasstar team successfully implemented the project, completing a full technical refresh of the platform.

The Technical Detail

  • The networking infrastructure was re-architected to be hosted in separate AWS accounts and VPCs to isolate Production and Non-Production environments.

  • AWS native services were adopted, such as Amazon AMQ removing the dependency on third-party software.

  • The instances were uplifted to the latest family types delivering improved performance at lower cost.

  • The operating system for the EC2 server estate was migrated to the latest version of Amazon Linux.

  • Oracle database was migrated from EC2 into Amazon RDS.

  • The solution was redeployed as IaC using AWS CloudFormation.

My personal experience of working with the Nasstar team was fantastic. A professional and knowledgeable team with excellent technical and communication skills. They provided me with any details I needed throughout the process and kept me updated regularly. Always very flexible with regards to meetings and I know they spent many hours working on this project. Great support.

Darren Lazenby
M2M & IoT Customer Experience Manager, BT Networks